Games are often about being the good guy; beat the villain, save the world, bask in the adoration of the people. What if you’re tired of that, though? What if you’d like to smash the hero and kick sand in his face? If you’d to embrace your dark side, you ought to try Reverse Crawl, a turn-based RPG from web game mavens Nerdook that lets you do just that.
Your average dungeon crawler stars you as a hero raiding an evil overlord’s lair for cash, prizes and fame, but Reverse Crawl, well, reverses it. Flips the script, as the kids say. Here, you play as the Revenant King, a deceased ruler resurrected as a specter by his daughter the Princess. Your job is to take your former kingdom back from the Red Queen, but she’s got a whole army waiting to stop you as well as plenty of heroes who’d just love to kick your undead butt.
How are you going to manage that? Well, you’re technically the villain here, so you’ll have to solve your problems with monsters! You’ve got skeletons, zombies, ogres and other fantasy staples ready to help you beat the crap out of any goody two-shoes sorts who stand in your way. You’re able to upgrade your minions based on the missions you choose to complete, so your minion army is customizable to a certain extent, though the missions you choose also affect the plot so that could play into your decision.
Combat is a turn-based affair played on a hex grid. You’re the bad guy, so combat tends to focus on you summoning groups of weaker minions that try to overwhelm and defeat a more powerful foe a la your traditional RPG. Your groups come as specific collections of minions and you’re not able to make your own. Victory in battle depends on knowing when to use specific groups to battle specific enemies, as well as being prepared to accept strategic losses when necessary. You can also intervene directly with various abilities that charge up as you take down your enemies, such as healing your minions or damaging foes.
Nerdook is known for their web games and it shows with Reverse Crawl. It looks and feels a lot like a Flash game you’d play on Newgrounds back in the day. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but don’t go into this one expecting it to bring your Titan GPU to its knees. Sound is acceptable but not especially notable, and the plot is cute but isn’t going to spark any flame wars.
Reverse Crawl is relatively short, lasting around five hours for a playthrough depending on how often you get wrecked in battle. There are several endings and, as mentioned, the missions you choose to play affect which of your minions are strongest, so your playstyle is likely to change from session to session. It’s an interesting idea, and strategy fans are likely to find it worthwhile. If you’d like to walk on the dark side for a little, Reverse Crawl just might be the game that lets you do it.